As we round the last corner of summer and face record-breaking temperatures - often exceeding 100 degrees - we want to remind everyone how to avoid engine overheating and what to do if your engine does start to overheat.
Just like a marathon runner who needs regular care and replenishment to avoid overheating, your car needs some help to avoid overheating in the summer. The cooling systems in our cars have come a long way in over 150 years of development, but ultimately no car is immune to engine overheating.
One of the best ways to prevent engine overheating is to keep your car somewhere cool. Park in shaded spots as much as possible, whether it’s under a tree or in a covered parking spot. Use a sunshade to keep the interior cool and protected from direct sunlight. Applying a dark tint to your car can also help to keep the temperature down and provide another layer of protection against the heat. It’s also a good idea to leave the car windows open slightly to prevent hot air from getting trapped inside. If you have a sunroof, crack that open too.
The next important component is to keep up with regular maintenance, especially when it comes to maintaining coolant fluids. Make sure to keep the coolant level between min-max at all times. If your coolant fluid is low or dirty, your car will be much more susceptible to overheating.
Major components of your car’s cooling system including the radiator, coolant, thermostat, and electric fan. Any leaks in the cooling system can quickly cause the car to overheat and cause damage to other major systems. When you take your car for regular services and maintenance, your mechanic will check the conditions of all of these major systems. Even if you aren’t able to make it to a mechanic, make sure to check your car’s coolant level with every new season. Only check your coolant level when your car is parked and has ample time to cool off. If your coolant levels are low, make sure to visit the mechanic to check for a leak.
It’s very important to note that coolant can be extremely hot and can burn you when you remove your radiator cap when the car is still very hot. Make sure to allow the car to cool off completely before checking coolant levels.
During the first 10 minutes of driving, make sure to set your A/C to the “fresh air” setting. After it’s had a chance to cool down, you can switch to the recirculation setting. Using recirculation in the first 10 minutes just moves all that hot, trapped air around your vehicle. Start with some fresh air from outside and let it cool down before switching to the A/C recirculation setting.
Always make sure to keep your eye on the car temperature gauge. If it begins to move towards “hot”, pull over and turn off the engine. Let the car cool down adequately before starting it up again.
Two other options that may help reduce the risk of your engine overheating are to have your radiator flushed by a mechanic and to consider replacing your car battery. A car battery over 3 years old may require your car to work harder, increasing the likelihood of overheating. A radiator flush drains old coolant from the radiator and should be done every 40,000 miles.
If your car does start to overheat, pull over to the side of the road. Park (somewhere shaded and cool, if possible), turn your car off, crack the window, and let your car cool for a minimum of 10 minutes. Open the hood of your car to allow trapped heat to clear out more quickly.
Once the car has cooled off, turn the ignition to its first position (don’t start the engine). Check the temperature gauge to make sure it's in a normal range. Check engine fluids to make sure they are between the min and max levels. Now try to start the engine. If it makes strange sounds or does not start at all, make sure to call roadside assistance. Don’t continue to push your engine when it is in any stage of overheating. This can be dangerous and very harmful to your car’s systems.
If your vehicle is showing signs of overheating, or you have any concerns about your cooling system, be sure to give us a call today and we’ll be happy to test and assess the vehicle, provide the proper service and repairs and get you back on the road as quickly as possible. You can check out our specials page for our latest coupons and savings as you get your car road trip and family vacation ready.